Nurses and othermedical care professionals practice in the kind of environment thatis evolving rapidly regarding technology, pressure to containskyrocketing medical costs, and advances in healthcare (Jahn &Alias, 2016). Due to constant changes in healthcare landscape, thesenursing professionals have to make sound decisions whereby the legalramifications of their decisions and judgments are uncertain.Therefore, the paper seeks to identify nursing decisions that havethe greatest legal consequences, and how similar situations innursing decisions might lessen these legal ramifications.
The legalimplications of nursing practice and decision-making are tied tostate and federal laws, licensure, and scope of practice, and publicexpectations, which nurses are involved in at higher professionalstandards. Jahn & Alias (2016) noted that nurses` education,nursing standards, and license provide the platform or framework bywhich they are expected to practice and make crucial nursingdecisions. When these nurses` practice and decision-making fall belowexpected standards of nursing care and competence, nurses are thenexposed to litigation.
Nursingdecisions with the greatest legal implications include exercisingbelow par and unreasonable level of care, negligence, malpractices,which include breach of duty and causation, professional negligence –meaning an act of neglect by the nurse towards his or herprofessional role, and a nurse`s act of omission of crucial data. For instance, an act of commission and omission will subject thenurse to litigation and a review of professional license (Jahn &Alias, 2016). Both professional license review and litigation willresult in a reprimand of the license or total loss of it.
Correctional medical professionals, for example, can be morevulnerable to legal implications since the population of prisonpatients has been granted a constitutional right to have properhealth care. Therefore, inmate-patients engage with the nurses moreoften than any other health care provider. The nurses` decisions donot offer these inmates with proper access to health care towardsmeeting their pressing need for medical care can be litigated underthe 8th Amendment as a deliberate indifference towards patients orunder the 14th Amendment as a violation of civil rights (Jahn &Alias, 2016).
As earlierindicated, nursing malpractice also has the greatest legalramification, which comes as a result of the nurses` decisions orfailure to follow set nursing regulations. According to Jahn &Alias (2016), nursing malpractices include the misconduct,negligence, or breach of duty, which in turn, result in damage orinjury to the patient. Common malpractices against nurses arise whenthey choose not to follow proper standards of care, failure to assessand monitor, communicate with the patients, usage of medicalequipment in a responsible way, document patients` medical records,and act and the patients` advocate by following a required chain ofcommand.
There are different decisions in similar situations that might lessenlegal ramifications. Once of the decisions is the nurses` cognizanceof legal risks to provide health care. The nurses` ability to becognizant could help minimize risks arising from malpractices.Lessening legal ramifications involve the nurses` ability to stayup-to-date in their medical field of practice, assess patients by thepolicy and clinicians` orders, and remaining active and promptlyreporting abnormal assessments, for example, laboratory data andother follow-ups (Jahn & Alias, 2016). Additionally, lesseningthese legal implications may also include follow-ups in medical careassessments to avoid negligence, communicate factually and openlywith the patients, other health care providers, and the patients`families. Others may also include the ability of nurses to filepromptly and report appropriate incidents for deviations in healthcare.
Jahn, K. P. N., & Alias, F. (2016). Religious, Ethical and LegalConsiderations in End-of-Life Issues: Fundamental Requisites forMedical Decision Making. Journal of Religion and Health, 55, 1,119-134.